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The New Latinos:
Who They Are, Where They Are



John R. Logan, Director
Lewis Mumford Center for Comparative Urban and Regional Research
University at Albany

September 10, 2001



As the Hispanic population in America has grown in the last decade (from 22.4 million to 35.3 million), there has also been a shift in its composition. The fastest growth is not in the traditionally largest Hispanic groups, the ones who arrived earliest in the largest numbers (Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, or Cubans), but among New Latinos - people from the Dominican Republic and a diverse set of countries in Central American (such as El Salvador) and South America (such as Colombia). Based on Census 2000 and related sources, the Mumford Center estimates that the number of New Latinos has more than doubled since 1990, from 3.0 million to 6.1 million.

Cubans are still the third largest single Hispanic group in the United States, at 1.3 million. But there are now nearly as many Dominicans (1.1 million) and Salvadorans (also 1.1 million). There are more New Latinos than Puerto Ricans and Cubans combined, and these new groups are growing much more rapidly.

The New Latinos bring a new level of complexity to the rapidly changing complexion of ethnic America. This report reviews what we now know about this important minority: who they are (in comparison to the better known Hispanic groups) and where they live. For those who wish further information about specific metropolitan regions, population counts are now available through the web page of the Lewis Mumford Center.

Who Are the New Latinos?

An outstanding characteristic of the New Latinos is their diversity. Not only do they come from many different countries. More important is that they have a wide range of social and economic backgrounds, some better prepared for the U.S. labor market than any of the older Hispanic groups, and others much less successful. Our best information about their backgrounds is from the Current Population Survey; in order to maximize the size of the sample on which they are based, our figures here are pooled estimates from the CPS conducted in March 1998 and 2000.

Nativity and year of entry. Puerto Ricans are considered by definition to be born in the United States. The majority of Cubans are foreign-born (68%), though relatively few of those entered the country in the last ten years (27%). They mainly represent a pre-1990 immigration stream. In contrast, only about a third of Mexican Americans (36%) were born abroad, but nearly half of their foreign-born members are recent immigrants (49% in the previous ten years).


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